Mayor from 2008 to 2018
James Firestone served as a Vilonia City Council member from 1998 to 2008, when he was appointed by the city council to fill a vacancy after the resignation of then-mayor Ken Belote; shortly thereafter, he was elected to the position.
Prior to serving as an alderman, he served as a school board member from 1986 to 1995 and was a charter member of the Vilonia Community Recreation Association. He helped build the city's first ballpark; today, the Parks Association manages over 600 children of various sporting activities. Later, he assisted in the acquisition of the land used in the expansion of the ballpark to include the softball and soccer complexes, opening the community to even more.
Firestone is a native of Vilonia, graduating from Vilonia High School in 1972; that was the same year he married his wife, Diane. They are still married today and have raised two daughters together, who are each married and raising a daughter of her own, all still in Vilonia. Firestone, his daughter Tina, and her daughter Lauren all hold black belts in TaeKwonDo.
After graduation, Firestone went into masonry, a skill his family was well experienced in, although his mother had held hopes he'd become a preacher. In 1986, he jumped careers from bricklaying to locomotive engineering, where he remained until he was offered the Director of Operations position at Little Rock Port Authority in 2006, where he continues at the time of this writing.
Firestone was very involved in the community throughout his tenure and despite his busy schedule. To raise funds for the Veteran's Museum, he dressed as Mountain Man from the popular TV show Duck Dynasty, as well as dedicating his time to gaining funding for ongoing costs. He helped with daily tasks at the Senior Center, and he was a key player in the inaugural annual Christmas Parade, which has since grown to such a scale, it is compared to those of much larger local communities.
During his term, the population increased by 81% but the crime rate remained stable. Many credit this to Firestone's active participation in the police department, where he assisted in defensive training for officers, facilitated the construction of a state-of-the-art training center, which includes both a firing range and burn tower, and helped develop salary policies, including a pay scale system and certificate pay. He also helped the police department upgrade their equipment, from infrared cameras in the vehicles to a live scan fingerprinting system.
On April 27, 2014, Vilonia was devastated when an EF-4 tornado passed through the city. President Obama declared Vilonia a federal disaster area. Mayor Firestone assisted President Obama as he assessed the damage of the area and talked to affected community members.
At the 2015 Vilonia Chamber Banquet, Mayor Firestone had the privilege of honoring two city employees with awards, Kelly Lawrence and Keith Hillman.